Monday, April 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #20 Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.

"I am not talking about a Broadway show with your parents and your little sister. I am talking about Manhattan at night with you. Do you understand the difference?"
"Are you serious?"
"Do I look like I am joking?"

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (Perry & Gobi, #1)

This is a fun book about a kid who has to take their Lithuanian exchange student to prom- and finds more than he bargained for when she turns out to be a lethal assassin! It's fast moving and full of craziness- just the kind of light read I need for a little break. And once they get to Manhattan- watch out!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunday Post #42/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week was much better for reading, I finished two books and started another. Now that's what I'm talking about- finally. I was slow going on a couple of reads, I guess mainly because nothing was really wowing me - and life was busy too. It kinda feels like the logjam is broken and I can move on now.  I've got some good reads coming up too- well I hope they're good, they look good to me anyway.   

I should have several reviews up this week, just putting the finishing touches on my Jurassic Park thoughts. Looking ahead I have several YA reads I want to get to and a historical or two- where's the fantasy? Seems like I'm not feeling the fantasy love as much these days- or just not coming across the right stuff. Just not a lot that grabbing me right now. We'll see if that changes... 


Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (Perry & Gobi, #1)


Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #19

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.

After locking the door behind him, he put the gun into the backseat of the Jeep. As he left the garage, he heard the distant rumble of thunder. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

 Jurassic Park
I haven't done this meme in a while, so it's nice to be back. I'm a big fan of the Jurassic Park movies (well, the first two anyway) but I've never read the books. Well, I'm correcting that now with the first one. I have to say I never really thought about reading the books much, but lately it just seemed like a good idea to see what the original story is like- and a shout out to Jessica at Tales Between the Pages for giving me the idea with her Page to Screen feature.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sunday Post #41/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This week has been kinda crazy and there hasn't been a lot of reading time. I only really had one day where I got any reading done. There have been some health issues with the parents and that took a lot of time and driving back and forth between cities- I need to get some audio books I guess! So- no reviews last week. I also didn't get around to many blogs but hopefully this coming week will be a little better that way. 

I should be wrapping up Seven Wild Sisters soon though and getting a review up- then it's on to the rest of my stack. I keep adding new ones, including some I've been seeing on other blogs- but don't we all? I've been changing up my current reads just a bit too, just for variety's sake. Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend. 

Happy Easter!!! 


Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) Emilie and the Sky World (Emilie, #2)


Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (Perry & Gobi, #1)


George RR Martin has posted a sample from the upcoming World of Ice and Fire on his website. The sample concerns Aegon the Conqueror and an interesting read. Who knows when The Winds of Winter is coming- but this one is due in October. 

Could there be a Flash Gordon remake in the wings? 

Some updates at Rapid City Recess, a fun blog about northern Michigan. There's other stuff there too, but some of the photography is quite nice. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunday Post #40/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
 This week has been spring break for us, and we didn't go anywhere- just stayed home and took day trips. That was nice though, we had a lot of fun and were home every night. Man, did the week go by fast! We went to the zoo one day, and took a trip to the lakeshore to see the ice on Lake Michigan. I hope to get some pictures of that up soon. There are a lot of beach towns on this side of the state and we went to Grand Haven to spend the day, got pizza at one of my fave restaurants over there and then found a great little coffee house- which we didn't really want to leave. All in all a pretty good week. In other news, I was nominated for the Liebster AND the Sunshine award last week- thanks to Jessica at Tales between the Pages and Ericka at Highway-Y.A. I appreciate that and nominated a few blogs of my own- please check out my post here. And please go visit Jessica and Ericka- both are great blogs and a lot of fun. 

In reading news, I totally went off plan and grabbed a new book to read. My current reads just were not grabbing me. So I picked up Panic by Lauren Oliver and liked it a lot. Review here.

Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1)

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver


Panic is a game played by graduating seniors in the little town of Carp, New York. It takes place over the entire summer and consists of competition against other students as well as individual challenges. Everyone is sworn to secrecy about the game, and bad things happen to anyone who breaks the code. Heather Nill grew up in a trailer park and doesn't have much going for her- when her boyfriend dumps her and takes up with another girl, Heather figures she has nothing to lose and impulsively jumps (literally) into the game. She is joined by her best friend Nat and Dodge, a loser who has his own reasons for playing- and playing hard.

The story is told from the viewpoint of both Heather and Dodge, and the story intersects between them and their friends as they navigate the minefield of Panic. I could relate to both Heather and Dodge, they have a hard life and not much to look forward to- so why not play? Of course the stakes get high and they will both have to make some tough calls that will affect them and everyone around them as well. Heather's friend Bishop at times reminded me of Levi from Fangirl for some reason- he's just one of those nice guys. Although in this book there are a lot of secrets and not everyone is as they appear.

Lauren Oliver touches on a lot of things in this story- the decaying small town feel of Carp, the hopelessness of those with few options, and the teens think like real teens- it's at times hilarious to hear their thoughts about their loser parents and the other dysfunctional people in this town. Nat has OCD issues and that was a nice touch, to show the challenges that can present to a young person.

Panic is set in the here and now and is not a science fiction tale at all. It's just a story of some kids who are desperate and take some chances, for all kinds of reasons. This book grabbed me right from the get-go and kept me turning the pages- while I occasionally thought the character motivations to be a bit farfetched, it was mostly pretty plausible.  Although I do think in real life the cops would have shut this down way before it gets to the point it does.

I highly recommend Panic for anyone who wants a fast paced, thrilling and often sobering look at a game that gets way out of control. I blew through this and thought it was great, if a bit unrealistic at the end.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Liebster / Sunshine award

I was nominated for the Liebster award this week by Jessica at Tales Between The Pages, and also for the Sunshine award by Erica at Highway-Y.A. I was nominated for the Liebster once before but didn't really do anything with it- it seemed kinda chain letterish and I saw some bloggers doing awards and some not. So I just kinda let it go...It does seem like a way to recognize other bloggers and maybe help them get some traffic, so I'm going to pass the awards on this time. Near as I can tell, the rules are pretty much the same for both, so I nominated a few blogs for each.

Thank you Jessica and Ericka! It's always nice to make new blogger friends and to have this happen twice in one week is kinda cool. I appreciate your nominating me!

So here we go.

The rules are:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you
2. Answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you
3. List 11 facts about yourself
4. Pick 10 bloggers to nominate for the award with less than 200 followers
5. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

11 facts about me: 

1. I'm a fantasy fan but read surprisingly little fantasy these days. At least not high fantasy.
2. My favorite food is pizza.
3. I love conventions
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places.
5. My first job was working at a vette shop- started out washing cars then I got to drive Corvettes back from the auto auction. Imagine a 17 yr old kid driving Vettes on the highway. Best job ever?
6. I think Night Fever by The BeeGees is a jam.
7. If it's Billy Idol, I'm crankin it. Just sayin.
8. I love Knights of the Dinner Table. If you read it, you know why.
9. Panera Bread makes me happy.
10. I majored in psych and went to law school for a year, and my career has nothing to do with either of those.
11. I'm a big fan of Michael Whelan's artwork, and am lucky enough to own this piece.

My answers to Jessica's questions: 

1). What's one morning ritual you hate to give up? Coffee and toast

2) If you could go back in time, where/ when would you go? Why'd you choose that place/ time? The birth of Christ. I love Christmas, imagine being there for the real thing. If I could pick another, I'd want to see the age of dinosaurs. As long as I could get out quick!

3) Which book world would you most like to live in? Least like to live in? That's easy- Middle Earth all the way. To see The Tower Hills, the Blue Mountains, Rivendell... and grab a beer at the Green Dragon. Least like? Probably Westeros- way too dangerous! Although being a Tyrell of Highgarden might not be too bad...

4) What are the three best books you've read this year? Vitro by Jessica Khoury is probably my favorite so far this year. Dipping back into last year, I would say Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole and Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke have to be on that list.

5) Which writer inspires you most? Edgar Rice Burroughs was a big inspiration to me growing up. The John Carter books had a big impact on me. For a young reader there was just so much there...

6) What do you do for a living and would you give it all up to become a professional blogger? I'm a benefits administrator at a healthcare company, and love my job- but yeah if I could make a living blogging, you betcha!

7) What's one thing you wish bloggers would do more? Kill the CAPTCHA :)

8) What's your lifelong dream? To be a writer

9) If you could live as one main character from a book, who would it be and why? I'm not sure about this one, actually. Maybe Frodo- I wouldn't want the burden he had, but to sail across the sea with the elves to Valinor would be alright.

10) If you could learn how to do anything, what would it be? Better blog design! :)

My nominations:

1. Second Run Reviews
2. Finley Jayne's Going to the Library

1. Natalie Hearts Books
2. Raining Books and Words

If any of my nominees don't want to do this, I completely understand- I just think they're nice up and coming blogs and wanted to share the love.

Questions for nominees:

1. What is your favorite food?
2. Do you reread favorite books or are you a one and done reader?
3. Do you prefer real books or ebooks?
4. If you could vacation anywhere and $ was no object, where would you go?
5. What is your favorite type of music? Country, rock, jazz, whatever...
6. If you could pick a book or series to be made into a movie, what would it be?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Concert you would most like to see?
9. Do you have a favorite restaurant?
10. Share a moment in a book that shocked you- good or bad.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Movie review: Captain America The Winter Soldier

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night in a crowded theater and the atmosphere was festive. There has been a lot of hype for this movie, and regular readers know I've been awaiting this one eagerly. There was a real sense of anticipation in the crowd as the lights went down and the show started. I liked the beginning as we meet Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) as he is jogging- and getting passed periodically by Steve Rogers (Captain America). The two of them meet and strike up an immediate friendship. Sam gives Steve some pointers on music, since Steve has recently been revived from decades on ice and is adjusting to modern society. This established a little humor at the beginning and was a great way to start the movie. Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow) then shows up to pick up Cap for a mission, and off we go.

We get a lot of action sequences after that, punctuated by quieter character moments as we get to know Steve and Natasha better. Their initial mission leads to some revelations about what SHIELD is doing, and this puts Cap at odds with SHIELD. After an attempt is made on SHIELD director Nick Fury's life, Cap finds himself in the crosshairs of some very powerful people- and to top it off, the Winter Soldier appears- an assassin with some very personal ties to Captain America.

The character beats were the best part of this film. The relationship between Cap and Black Widow is evolving as they understand each other better- their banter was a lot of fun. There was some tension in the beginning as they obviously have different mission priorities, and that was a nice touch. This had the feel of those old Marvel comics where superheroes would guest star in each others' books- this is very much a team up story with Cap and Widow. They're a great team and as always Scarlett Johansson is a great Widow. Now we just need a Black Widow movie!

Anthony Mackie as the Falcon was a nice addition as the Falcon has a long history in the comics. The casting of Emily VanCamp as Agent was nice, and I liked that she was assigned to protect Cap- she has a limited role but they're obviously setting her up for bigger things down the road. The return of Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill was appreciated, she brings a smoldering intensity to the role but is cool as ice too.  They should ditch Fury and put her in charge.

There were some nice Easter eggs, or nods to the fandom in the movie. Batroc as a minor villain brought a smile to my face as he's been a recurring (minor) villain in the comic for years. The presence of Jenny Agutter in the film was kinda cool (fans of Logan's Run will remember her as Jessica)- and when she cuts loose and goes all Bourne style in a crucial sequence at the end, I don't think anyone saw that coming. Of course there's more to that scene but I don't wan to spoil it.

The extended fight scene in the middle of the movie was great and the best action piece of the movie. I'm looking forward to watching that again. Widow hold her own against Winter Soldier, and then Cap and Winter Soldier face off in a very visceral street level way. There's a sense that Winter Soldier recognizes Cap from their shared history, and that was powerfully done.

The ending was a little frenetic- I would have liked t see a longer, uninterrupted fight scene between Cap and the Winter Soldier, but instead they rapidly switch between Cap, the Widow and the Falcon as they fight their respective enemies. I've seen some reviews note that the ending is a rather typical action set piece, and I agree. Lots of explosions and flying debris, but again an extended faceoff between the two principal players would have been a nice capstone to this movie.

There's been some talk that Sebastian Stan (the actor who plays Winter Soldier) will replace as Cap at some point down the road, and given his performance in this movie that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. I like Evans as Cap a lot, he brings a wholesome everyman feel to the character, but if they do switch it up down the road they could do worse than Stan. He was one of the highlights of the film as the Winter Soldier. He could bring a little rough around the edges vibe while still staying true to the essence of the character.

I liked this movie a lot, and while it didn't quite live up to my (perhaps too high) expectations, it was still a blast and probably my favorite superhero movie to date. This movie was surprisingly dark at times, and some of the scenes couple with the music are pretty intense- just a word of caution to anyone who might take small kids to see this.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunday Post #39/ It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Spring break is here! A week off with the family and the weather is starting to get nice (well, kinda). We're not going anywhere special this year, just going to stay home and take some day trips and pretty much relax. Looking forward to it. And oh yeah- read too.  I did some reading this week but it was a little here and a little there, and not always stuff on my reading list- so no reviews this week. Movies though- I got that covered. 

I saw the Divergent movie this past week and really liked it. I have not read the books- I'm one of those people- but I thought it was very well done. You can see my thoughts on it here

I also saw the new Captain America movie opening night in a very crowded theater. It's quite the thrill ride, I'll say that. My review of that should be up in a day or so. 


George RR Martin released a new sample chapter from the Winds of Winter last week. It's an Arya chapter, and is apparently an old chapter, in the sense that he wrote it a long time ago. Here he explains its history, and the fact that it was held out of A Dance with Dragons.  

There is also a new Tyrion chapter available, but only as part of the Ice and Fire app. Links are here. I've read it and let's just say it's vintage Martin. We're already getting a little snapshot of the early going in Winds of Winter based on these samples. 

TV Guide has a piece on Game of Thrones season 4. The takeaway here is they are going to pull plot points from books 3-5- this is huge because it puts the pressure on Martin, and also because some people have not read that far. Also of note- the producers stress this is the halfway point of the show, and they are starting to lay groundwork for finishing- whether Martin finishes or not. 

Dreamworks picks up rights to Eleanor & Park, and Rainbow Rowel may write the screenplay. 

 A couple of nice reviews over at Popcorn Reads this week - Don't Even Think About it by Sarah Mlynowski and Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells. 

Read an interview with Betsy Cornwell, author of Tides, at Icey Books and enter the giveaway for a copy of Tides. This was a good book and a great interview. I read it last year and it's nice to see it get some more attention. My review is here. I thought this book had one of the best covers of last year too. 


So how was your week? 

Movie review: Divergent

I went and saw Divergent the other night and thought it was great. So often lately when I see movies I am disappointed- but not this time. I have not read the book so I went in knowing almost nothing about the series- I knew there were five factions and that's about it. The beginning was interesting, with the rusting ship sitting in what used to be Lake Michigan apparently, and the great fence surrounding Chicago. That was impressive.

I thought Shailene Woodley did a great job as Tris. She was vulnerable but tough. I really liked the choosing ceremony and Tris' introduction to Dauntless was cool. I thought she really conveyed a sense of freedom as she jumped on that train and took off for her new life. The fact that she didn't go from weak to badass overnight was nice too- she got her butt kicked a few times and almost got booted, but her determination and inner toughness won out. That seemed realistic to me. It was nice to see her slowly win Four over that way as well.

I thought Theo was good as Four, tough and no- nonsense but he had a vulnerable side too, as Tris soon discovered. There were times when I desperately wanted him to slap Eric down, there's obviously a history between those two. I assume this is covered more in the book. I liked that the romance between Tris and Four was a slow build- and when it did happen Tris put the brakes on a bit, and Four was fine with that. He was classy about it and respected her. No whiny emo kids here! I especially liked they way they handled that in case my kids see this (and apparently my daughter is hearing all about at school) - sends a good message.

The director did a great job pacing this movie. So many movies these days are over hyped and turn out lame. This one genuinely thrilled me at times. It's a longish movie but I was never bored. They spent a lot of time on the Dauntless training but it was interesting to see how tough it was, and frankly this was my favorite part of the story. Tris' struggles and the capture-the-flag sequence were very well done, I thought. There's no way I would ever do that zip line though!

The only thing I didn't really like was the whole mind control thing. That seemed over the top and silly, almost. I get the faction vs. faction idea but the fact that everyone in Dauntless got this serum and became drones just didn't work for me. The movie seemed to devolve at that point into a shoot em up, and I also thought they infiltrated Dauntless base way to easily. At that point Tris was like a seasoned commando- just seemed a bit sudden.  Still, it was nice to see her take charge. Of course Tris and Four had to fight- sigh. But he can't really hurt her because he loves her- check. Still, none of this was a deal breaker for me. It's just that a story  I was really liking became a little predictable. I did like how it ended though- where do they go from here? Since I haven't read the books, I have no idea.

I have to say Veronica Roth has created a compelling, and frankly disturbing, story. This is not a world I would want to live in, but I would happily revisit in a sequel. I don't know if I'll read the books, but I thought the movie version was very good.

What did you think of Divergent? Are you a series veteran or a newbie like me?